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  • Fetish films and videos are generally beyond criticism; IMDb lists over a thousand female bondage titles that only die-hard fanatics watch and I doubt if a single comment has been posted on any of them. But Britain's actress/director Tanya Hyde takes a fairly wide range of fetishes and brings them into the mainstream without sacrificing their individual potency -quite a feat. "Underworld" is one of her best efforts.

    I'm not sure what TH's secret is but I believe it has to do with her style and complete command of cinematic technique. I normally can't sit through a fetish exercise simply because they are so poorly made - the term "amateurish" would be unwarranted high praise given how cheap, dull and ugly these videos seem. Even more mainstream names like Bruce Seven and David Christopher are guilty of incompetence in their versions.

    But Hyde delivers four lengthy segments that have inventive, often stunning photography and an MOS narrative thrust that makes them constantly interesting. We don't have some poor soul tied up and beaten in static fashion - instead the visuals are more of a three ring circus as stylish in its own peculiar way as the delirious fantasies of Fellini or Ken Russell.

    Femme cast is quite striking, ranging from the huge bust queen Michelle B. to superstar Eva Angelina (re-styled as a vision in latex) to the girlish, flat-chested "I'll do anything" unsung Brit star Susie Best, to (a favorite of mine) Harmony Films contract player Renee Richards who succeeds without gimmickry to a striking Black amazon Lala X.

    Hyde's male talent is often decked out here in outlandish costumes so as to be unrecognizable, whether it be wearing trademark pig's heads or covered in head to toe (minus the private parts) black latex as masochist mode. Weird sci-fi gas masks are worn nonchalantly. I didn't know Danny Mountain was prominently in the cast until seeing him horsing around in the "Backstage" behind the scenes short subject. Respecting one current taboo, Hyde leaves all the Golden Shower (she doesn't pretend it's "squirting") footage out of the main feature and shows it in an optional very short subject.

    The segments' content is quite varied; my favorite being an Alice in Wonderland styled nightmare fantasy titled "Bad Dream". "Der Gummi Kink" trots out a favorite topic of Tanya's involving medical instruments and examinations, this time made strange by a crazy mechanical dildo machine that resembles a portable power drill.

    The end result of relentless stylization and no holds (or holes) barred sexual explicitness is a creation of outré strangeness similar to what a stylish horror film can achieve but with rough sex substituting for the fantasy genre's reliance upon gore. It all boils down to a preference for Eros over Thanatos, and "Underworld" is an excellent introduction.